Vietnamese cuisine encompasses the foods and beverages of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental tastes (Vietnamese: ngũ vị) in the overall meal. Each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flav
or which reflects one or more of these elements.
Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, and fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.
Known for its balance of five elements, many Vietnamese dishes include five fundamental taste senses (ngũ vị): spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth), corresponding to: five organs (ngũ tạng): gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder.
Vietnamese dishes also include five types of nutrients (ngũ chất): powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat. Vietnamese cooks try to have five colours (ngũ sắc): white (metal), green (wood), yellow (Earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes.
Dishes in Vietnam appeal to gastronomes’ via five senses (năm giác quan): food arrangement attracts eyes, sounds come from crisp ingredients, five spices are detected on the tongue, aromatic ingredients coming mainly from herbs stimulate the nose, and some meals, especially finger food, can be perceived by touching. Whether complex or simple, Vietnamese dishes also offer satisfying mouthfeel during the dining enjoyment.
Five element correspondence
|Spices (ngũ vị)||Sour||Bitter||Sweet||Spicy||Salty|
|Organs (ngũ tạng)||Gall bladder||Small intestine||Stomach||Large intestine||Urinary bladder|
|Colors (ngũ sắc)||Green||Red||Yellow||White||Black|
|Senses (ngũ giác )||Visual||Taste||Touch||Smell||Sound|
|Nutrients (ngũ chất)||Carbohydrates||Fat||Protein||Minerals||Water|
Yin yang balance
The principle of yin and yang is applied in composing a meal in a way that provides a balance that is beneficial for the body. While contrasting texture and flavors are important, the principal primarily concerns the “heating” and “cooling” properties of ingredients. Certain dishes are served in their respective seasons to provide contrasts in temperature and spiciness of the food and environment.